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The Absurd Mind; the Collective in Revolt

The Absurd Mind; the Collective in Revolt

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Published by Daniel
An essay on the change in western thought after the World Wars and how art represents this change. Offers in-depth exploration of the human psyche as explanation for the shift in cultural beliefs and ideology.
An essay on the change in western thought after the World Wars and how art represents this change. Offers in-depth exploration of the human psyche as explanation for the shift in cultural beliefs and ideology.

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Published by: Daniel on May 11, 2010
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 Daniel J. PoolThe Absurd Mind; the Collective in RevoltWorld Thought and Culture IIIDr. Simpson and Dr. Weber April 7, 2010
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For the first of many centuries life seemed to matter. The gods watched over us andeverything was sensible and explainable. Then the great thinkers began tearing at what it meantto be sensible, what was really explainable, and soon there was not even gods. The beginning of the twenty-century was akin to a troubled birth. A unanimous psychic scream raged across theworld. For the first time man
had lost his direction. With the revolutionary ideas of painters, poets, musicians, philosophers, gardeners, professors, madmen, and kings looking to the absurdnature of man and trying to cling to metaphysical apron strings the world was upside. To better understand the nature of this shift in western convention of the early twentieth-century onemust look to; the consciousness theories of Jung, the absurd revolts of Camus, and the paintednightmares of Dali.The first change of vital importance is that of how man views himself. Jung usedPsychoanalysis to explain the soul of man, giving insight to a forgotten self (Jung, Basic Writing107). This
was an undercurrent of psychic force that man is unable to access (37).This notion that man was not in control shook the old tradition of man being a rational thinkingcreature (44). No longer could man hide even in his own head.Jung as well wrote on how man can be evil and more importantly that every man createssome evil with even every good act (Mod. Man in Search Soul, 199). He says, ³Every goodquality has its bad side, and nothing that is good can come into the world without directly producing a corresponding evil´ which breaks the belief that man could be innocent or  blameless. Just as ³there is no sun without shadow«´ (Camus, Sisyphus 123) so is no deedwithout consequence. ³This is a painful fact,´ he goes on to say, man is no longer in control or even good (Mod. Man in Search Soul, 199).
I will use man in the tense of mankind, and use male pronouns for ease and continuity.
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Then Jung challenged the world¶s convention on the source of god-given truths. Heintroduces the collective unconscious (Jung, Basic Writing 108), stating that it is the originator of  basic archetypes. A psyche shared by all humans as ancient as the Earth itself pulls awayconventions of meaning in life and removes the individual from society and creates a collectivemind set (118). This can ³crush´ the soul and displace man in the society so carefullyconstructed for him (119).At the same time Jung was pulling the soul apart, Camus was defining it for us. He laidout the theory of the absurd (Sisyphus, 11). The idea defines the inability to make meaningfulconnections with others; I am not a tree, a dog, a pen, not even another person. Man creates andseparates himself form his own. This ³absurd universe´ sounds ridiculous (12), but this call toconsciousness herald the ³awakening´ of the mechanical man (13). The people began to think about whom they were, why did they exist?Camus speaks at length on the crimes of man. How is it that a man can kill logically and be justified but kill for passion and be imprisoned (Camus, Rebel 3)? He speaks on how can one justify the murder and enslavement of ³seventy million´ people without it being wrong. Heexplains al length how man has to find to except these facts through an ever widening definitionof the absurd (5). He begins with the principle of indifference whereby man can justify murder  by it not mattering; he says, ³If we believe in nothing, if nothing has any meaning and if we canaffirm no values whatsoever, then everything is possible and nothing has any importance.´Though nihilistic in practice, this reasoning entices if not invites ridicule. How is everything possible? Because by eliminating our values, our creeds, we become empowered to anything. We just accept what happens and decide not to care about it.

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